Discovery’ Showrunner Explains Why They Reopened A TNG Mystery To Start Season 5 –


The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery debuted on Thursday with 2 episodes that dove into the season’s big story, linking directly back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. TrekMovie spoke to co-showrunner Michelle Paradise about why they got to the big mystery right away. The executive producer also talked about how this TNG episode helps build on the season’s themes and give it a structure.


Not waiting to open up the mystery box

In previous seasons Star Trek: Discovery has tended to draw out big mysteries, such as the source of “The Burn” in season 3 or who was behind DMAs in season 4. But as part of the stated plan to pivot the show with a new sense of adventure in season 5, the producers also chose to make a big reveal in episode 1. They even seemed to be hanging a lantern on the show’s previous penchant for “mystery box” storytelling by making the McGuffin for episode 1 a literal puzzle box, which was opened about halfway through the episode, by an eccentric old Soong-type Android named Fred.

Speaking to TrekMovie at the SXSW premiere of season 5, Michelle Paradise explained why they got to the big thing right away:

“Because we’re sending our heroes on a quest this season, we wanted to make sure that by the end of the first episode the audience understood exactly what that question was, exactly what our heroes were after, exactly what we were going to be following. There are of course, some other mysteries to solve and some cards to turn over as we go into the next few episodes. But it was really important to just be upfront – this this is what we’re doing with this season, and we have our audience go along for the ride.”

Fred opens up the Romulan puzzle box in “Red Directive”

Why return to “The Chase”

The box contained the diary of a 24th century Romulan Scientist named Vellek, giving a name to what was a background character in the season six Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Chase.” By the end of “Red Directive,” Kovich put all the pieces together, revealing the quest for this season is to discover the source of the power of the ancient beings who revealed themselves (via an ancient recording) to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and representatives from other species in that episode.

In “Red Directive” Kovich briefs Captain Burnham with a shot from “The Chase”

At SXSW, Paradise talked about why this TNG episode from 1993 was a perfect fit for their plans for season 5:

‘The Chase’ is an episode that had stuck with many of us because it addresses such huge ideas and huge themes. Where do we come from? The creation of life. And then it was this one episode, and then then that was it. And then they had another episode after that. And it just felt like that was something that just left us with many, many questions. What happened after that? What if? And so when we were thinking about this season in particular, and what we were going to be doing thematically and our characters looking at questions of meaning questions of purpose, it felt like that was a really great place to go back to as a launching point for this adventure, and that it was thematically resonant.

Of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation was designed to be episodic, so naturally, the show did move on to other stories. But introducing this notion that a single race (The Progenitors) seeded the galaxy with what became sentient humanoid life from Humans, Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, and beyond is quite intriguing. The Progenitors were explored in the (non-canon) extended Star Trek Universe, but now Discovery is picking up the story and using it as the basis for the fifth and final season.

In “Under the Twin Moons” Captain Burnham views a Progenitor from “The Chase”

“The Chase” is the starting point for season 5

At the WonderCon early screening of the season premiere, Paradise talked about how they have been thinking about the Progenitors for a while:

“We had been talking about the Progenitors, actually, in season 4, and it wasn’t something that ended up playing out. But the episode ‘The Chase’ is an episode that had stuck with many of us because it explores such big ideas and big themes and yet at the end of the episode, they’re just done and they’re going to go on another mission. And it was it was something that felt like it was something that we could expand on when we were coming into this season… it felt like just a really interesting place to explore for the missions themselves. It felt very rich, this idea of life itself and meaning and using that as a starting point for this adventure.”

In “Red Directive” Kovich identifies Dr. Vellek from “The Chase”

So “The Chase” is on again. This time Captain Burnham and the USS Discovery are racing against former couriers Moll and L’ak who are looking to make a big score. They could be looking to sell the Progenitor technology to the highest bidder. The first two episodes already name dropped some potential threats to the Federation including the Breen, Tholians, and Orions.

A 24th century recording of Dr. Vellek restarts “The Chase” for season 5

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuted with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and will be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.

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